Asia Minute: Tokyo Begins to Reopen

May 27, 2020

Japan has moved into a new phase of re-opening this week – including its largest city.

Starbucks is back in business in Tokyo this week — though many stores are just open for takeout orders.

More traditional measures of economic activity are also showing signs of life in the Japanese capital, as the voluntary restrictions are starting to ease.

Restaurants can stay open until 10 at night, instead of closing at 8. Libraries and museums can be open, but Timeout Tokyo reports many local museums are waiting until the middle of June.

On Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency in the last five prefectures where it was still in effect, saying that the country has moved from nearly 10,000 hospitalized cases of COVID 19 to fewer than 2,000.

Public schools will re-open next Monday in those final five prefectures.

Nationally, the phased return will be assessed every three weeks, and unless there are any set-backs, most restrictions should be gone by August.

As for Tokyo, where public gatherings are still limited to 50, the second phase of re-opening may come as soon as this weekend — doubling the number of people allowed at public gatherings and increasing the number of public facilities allowed to be open.

So far, Japan has reported nearly 17,000 cases of COVID-19, with nearly 850 deaths.